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Shlomo Perel, Holocaust survivor, film subject, dies at 98


JERUSALEM — Shlomo Perel, who survived the Holocaust through surreal subterfuge and an extraordinary odyssey that inspired his own writing and an internationally acclaimed film, died Thursday in central Israel. He turned 98.

Perel was born in 1925 to a Jewish family in Brunswick, Germany, several years before the Nazis came to power. He and his family fled to Lodz, Poland, after his father’s shop was vandalized and he was expelled from school. But when the Nazis invaded Poland, he and his brother, Isaac, left their parents and fled further east. Perel and Isaac landed in the Soviet Union and took refuge in a children’s home in what is now Belarus.

When the Germans invaded in 1941, Perel was once again trapped by the shifting front lines of World War II – this time captured by the German army. To avoid execution, Perel disguised his Jewish identity, adopted a new name and posed as a Russian-born ethnic German.

He successfully passed and became the translator of the German army prisoner of war unit, including for Stalin’s son. As the war drew to a close, Perel returned to Germany to join the paramilitary ranks of the Hitler Youth and was drafted into the Nazi forces.

After the capitulation of Germany and the liberation of the concentration camps, Perel and Isaac, who survived camp Dachau in southern Germany, were reunited. Perel became a translator for the Soviet army before emigrating to what is now Israel and participating in the 1948 war surrounding its creation. a zipper maker.

“Perel was silent for years,” Israel’s Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem, said in a statement, “mainly because he felt his story was not a Holocaust story.”

But in the late 1980s, Perel could no longer keep silent about the story of his wild guess. He wrote an autobiography that later inspired the Oscar-nominated 1991 film “Europa Europa”.

As the film captivated audiences, Perel became a public speaker. He traveled to tell the world what he saw during the tumult of the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews were slaughtered by the Nazis, and to reflect on the painful paradoxes of his identity.

“Shlomo Perel’s desire to live life to the fullest and tell his story to the world was an inspiration to everyone who met him and had the opportunity to work with him,” said Simmy Allen, spokesperson for Yad Vashem.

Perel died surrounded by family at his home in Givatayim, Israel.

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